How do Muslims celebrate Eid al-Fitr?

In Arabic, Eid means “festival” or a “feast”. In the Islamic calendar, there are two main eids per year – Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha.

Eid al-Fitr, a three-day festival, is called the “Smaller Eid” in comparison to Eid al-Adha, which is a four-day festival.

Why is Eid observed twice a year in the Islamic calendar?

Two distinct events in Islam’s history are celebrated and remembered by the two Eids.

Eid al-Fitr is the “feast of breaking the fast.” In this case, the fast is Ramadan. This fast recalls Prophet Muhammad’s revelation of the Quran and requires Muslims to fast from sunrise until sundown for one month.

Eid al-Adha Mass prayer. Sergei Karpukhin/Reuters

How do Muslims celebrate Eid al-Fitr?

Eid al-Fitr is celebrated over two or three days and includes morning prayers. The greetings are “Eid Mubarak,” which means “Blessed Eid,” and formal embraces. Home-made sweet dishes and gifts for children and those in need are made. Muslims are also encouraged to ask forgiveness and forgive others. The practices vary by country.

Eid al-Fitr has become a national holiday in many countries where there is a large Muslim population. Family, neighbors, and friends share the celebrations. In the U.S. or the U.K., Muslims can request a day off to celebrate or travel with friends and family.

In Egypt and Pakistan, for example, Muslims decorate the homes of their families with flowers, lanterns, or twinkling lights. A special meal is prepared, and friends and relatives are invited to celebrate.

The colorful Ramadan lanterns light up Amman in Jordan throughout the holy month. Ken Chitwood, CC BY

People prepare for Eid al-Fitr by rushing to local malls or special “Ramadan Markets” in places such as Jordan.

In Turkey, and other places that used to be part of the Ottoman Empire, such as Bosnia-Herzegovina, Albania and Azerbaijan, is known as “Lower Bayram”, or “festival”.

How do Muslims celebrate Eid al-Adha

The “feast” of sacrifice is Eid al-Adha. This festival comes after the hajj pilgrimage that millions of Muslims make to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, every year.

Eid al-Adha is a time to remember the story of God commanding Ibrahim to sacrifice Ismail in order to test his faith. In the Quran’s version of this story, Satan tries to tempt Ibrahim into disobeying God’s order. Ibrahim is unmoved, but informs Ismail who is willingly to be sacrificed.

As Ibrahim is about to kill Ismail, God intervenes. A ram is sacrificed instead of Ismail. Muslims sacrifice an animal during Eid al-Adha to commemorate Ibrahim’s death and to remind themselves to obey God.

When do they celebrate?

Eid al-Fitr falls on the first day of the 10th Islamic month.

Eid al-Adha falls on the 10th of the final Islamic month.

The Islamic Calendar uses a lunar calendar and calculates dates based on the lunar phases. The Islamic calendar is 10-12 days shorter than the Gregorian solar calendar, so the dates of Ramadan and Eid can change from year to year.

What is the spiritual significance of Eid al-Fitr?

Eid al-Fitr is a spiritual celebration that follows Ramadan’s fasting.

People in Casablanca distribute food and drink during Eid celebrations. AP Photo/Abdeljalil Bounhar

Eid al-Fitr, also known as Zakat al-Fitr, is a day of charity. Eid is a celebration of blessings and joy for all Muslims and an opportunity to share wealth.

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